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Why the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement is a Pending Disaster | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

Published on
Wednesday, January 07, 2015

by
RobertReich.org

Why the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement is a Pending Disaster

by

Robert Reich

Projected on the side of a building in Spokane, Washington in 2013, the message against ‘fast track’ authority, which would restrict lawmakers ability to weigh in or make changes to the deal, has been key in the fight against the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership agreement. The reason: If the American people knew what was in this deal they would never allow their members of Congress to vote in favor of it. (Photo: Michael Beasley of Spokane Coalition Builders/flickr/cc)

Republicans who now run Congress say they want to cooperate with President Obama, and point to the administration’s Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, as the model. The only problem is the TPP would be a disaster.

If you haven’t heard much about the TPP, that’s part of the problem right there. It would be the largest trade deal in history — involving countries stretching from Chile to Japan, representing 792 million people and accounting for 40 percent of the world economy – yet it’s been devised in secret.

Lobbyists from America’s biggest corporations and Wall Street’s biggest banks have been involved but not the American public. That’s a recipe for fatter profits and bigger paychecks at the top, but not a good deal for most of us, or even for most of the rest of the world.

First some background. We used to think about trade policy as a choice between “free trade” and “protectionism.” Free trade meant opening our borders to products made elsewhere. Protectionism meant putting up tariffs and quotas to keep them out.

In the decades after World War II, America chose free trade. The idea was that each country would specialize in goods it produced best and at least cost. That way, living standards would rise here and abroad. New jobs would be created to take the place of jobs that were lost. And communism would be contained.

For three decades, free trade worked. It was a win-win-win.

But in more recent decades the choice has become far more complicated and the payoff from trade agreements more skewed to those at the top.

Tariffs are already low. Negotiations now involve such things as intellectual property, financial regulations, labor laws, and rules for health, safety, and the environment.

It’s no longer free trade versus protectionism. Big corporations and Wall Street want some of both.

They want more international protection when it comes to their intellectual property and other assets. So they’ve been seeking trade rules that secure and extend their patents, trademarks, and copyrights abroad, and protect their global franchise agreements, securities, and loans.

But they want less protection of consumers, workers, small investors, and the environment, because these interfere with their profits. So they’ve been seeking trade rules that allow them to override these protections.

Not surprisingly for a deal that’s been drafted mostly by corporate and Wall Street lobbyists, the TPP provides exactly this mix.

What’s been leaked about it so far reveals, for example, that the pharmaceutical industry gets stronger patent protections, delaying cheaper generic versions of drugs. That will be a good deal for Big Pharma but not necessarily for the inhabitants of developing nations who won’t get certain life-saving drugs at a cost they can afford.

The TPP also gives global corporations an international tribunal of private attorneys, outside any nation’s legal system, who can order compensation for any “unjust expropriation” of foreign assets.

Even better for global companies, the tribunal can order compensation for any lost profitsfound to result from a nation’s regulations. Philip Morris is using a similar provision against Uruguay (the provision appears in a bilateral trade treaty between Uruguay and Switzerland), claiming that Uruguay’s strong anti-smoking regulations unfairly diminish the company’s profits.

Anyone believing the TPP is good for Americans take note: The foreign subsidiaries of U.S.-based corporations could just as easily challenge any U.S. government regulation they claim unfairly diminishes their profits – say, a regulation protecting American consumers from unsafe products or unhealthy foods, investors from fraudulent securities or predatory lending, workers from unsafe working conditions, taxpayers from another bailout of Wall Street, or the environment from toxic emissions.

The administration says the trade deal will boost U.S. exports in the fast-growing Pacific basin where the United States faces growing economic competition from China. The TPP is part of Obama’s strategy to contain China’s economic and strategic prowess.

Fine. But the deal will also allow American corporations to outsource even more jobs abroad.

In other words, the TPP is a Trojan horse in a global race to the bottom, giving big corporations and Wall Street banks a way to eliminate any and all laws and regulations that get in the way of their profits.

At a time when corporate profits are at record highs and the real median wage is lower than it’s been in four decades, most Americans need protection – not from international trade but from the political power of large corporations and Wall Street.

The Trans Pacific Partnership is the wrong remedy to the wrong problem. Any way you look at it, it’s just plain wrong.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Robert Reich, one of the nation’s leading experts on work and the economy, is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. Time Magazine has named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including his latest best-seller, Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future; The Work of Nations; Locked in the Cabinet;Supercapitalism; and his newest, Beyond Outrage. His syndicated columns, television appearances, and public radio commentaries reach millions of people each week. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, and Chairman of the citizen’s group Common Cause. His widely-read blog can be found at www.robertreich.org.

http://www.commondreams.org/views/2015/01/07/why-trans-pacific-partnership-agreement-pending-disaster


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Stop the Secret Trade Deal: the Monsanto Protection Act on Steroids! | Food Democracy Now


If you thought the Monsanto Protection Act was bad, the secret trade deal called the TPP is a global nightmare. Right now more than 600 corporate lobbyists, including Monsanto, are leading secret trade agreements, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), being negotiated behind closed doors like this spring when the Monsanto Protection Act was passed.
Just as we are on the verge of winning GMO labeling in the US, these secret negotiations could eliminate the ability of countries around the world to label GMOs or impose common sense restrictions on the sale of toxic chemicals, genetically engineered seed and food in their countries if Monsanto and other biotech companies get their way. They could also make it illegal to label GMOs in the U.S., placing the decision in the hands of corporate lobbyists and Monsanto GMO stooges.

Demand an end to secret trade deals, stop the fast track of the TPP. Stand with Food Democracy Now! – don’t let corporations pass the Global Monsanto Protection Act!

A copy of your letter of support will be delivered to President Obama, your Members of Congress and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman:

Dear President Obama, members of Congress and U.S. Trade Representative Froman,

The rules of democracy should not be rewritten behind closed doors!

I’m alarmed by the effort to Fast Track the secret trade agreement, the TPP, through Congress, which not only undermines Congress’ constitutional authority over trade, but will allow corporate lobbyists to erode our basic democratic rights without a proper public debate.

Please make these negotiations public and allow participation in an open and transparent manner.

I ask that you put an end to the secrecy behind these trade agreement negotiations.

Sincerely,

[Your Name]

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/sign/stop_tpp_monsanto_protection_act_on_steroids


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TPP: Terrible Plutocratic Plan (Trans-Pacific Partnership)

The TPP is actually the Trans-Pacific Partnership, more commonly known as NAFTA on steroids.[1]

Join a growing movement to prevent its creation.

The U.S. government is secretly negotiating this treaty with Pacific nations. Here are a few highlights of what whistleblowers have revealed is in the treaty:[2]

  • Corporate nationhood. The TPP will empower corporations to take real nations (including the U.S.) to court and overturn their laws.
  • Job offshoring. The TPP will create incentives for more exporting of jobs.
  • Damage to food safety.
  • Damage to environmental protections.
  • Enrichment of drug companies at the expense of human health.
  • Banning some generic drugs.
  • Further deregulating banks.[3] (Read that one twice if you have to! We’re not making this up!)
  • Forbidding the breaking up of too-big-to-fail financial firms, making them legally too big to fail.
  • Censoring the internet by effectively creating SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act) despite its failure in Congress as a result of strong public opposition.

TPP is a Terrible Plutocratic Plan. It’s fundamentally anti-democratic.

Roots Action
(Please click the link below to take action on this-

http://act.rootsaction.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=8036 )